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Bato, told to run 2 hours before COC deadline, says willing to drop for Sara

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Bato, told to run 2 hours before COC deadline, says willing to drop for Sara
Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa (right) holds his certificate of candidacy for president in the 2022 national elections. Accompanying him is Sen. Francis Tolentino.
PDP-Laban via Melvin Matibag

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, standard-bearer of the administration-led faction of PDP-Laban, indicated Monday his willingness to drop his race should Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio decide to run for the country's top post. 

Speaking to reporters at a press briefing Monday morning, the police chief-turned-senator said that he was told to file his COC with hours left in the filing period on Friday. 

"[PDP-Laban President Alfonso] Cusi called me at 3 o'clock in the afternoon on Friday telling me to go to Sofitel to file a COC," he said in Filipino.

The deadline was at 5 p.m. that day, just hours after he was called on, but Dela Rosa recalled that Cusi said the party "did not see anyone else who can continue the legacy that President (Rodrigo) Duterte would leave."

It is widely suspected that the senator, who has not been shy about his allyship with the Duterte administration, is only a placeholder for presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.

"If she will accept the offer to be PDP-Laban’s standard-bearer, then by all means, I will withdraw my COC," Dela Rosa said of the possibility that Duterte's daughter decides to run. 

Sara has said she intends to run for another term as mayor of Davao, a position she has held twice after taking over for her father in 2016.

Under the election rules set by the Commission on Elections, candidates have until mid-November to withdraw or file as substitute candidates.

But President Duterte's own announcement in 2015 came the same way after saying he had no intention to run for months. 

Oplan Tokhang 2.0?

Asked about the Duterte administration's flagship campaign against illegal narcotics, of which he served as chief implementer of when he was national police chief, Dela Rosa said he was willing to continue it but insisted things would be different.

"Of course, that will continue. But of course, we will listen to the suggestions, recommendations on how to make it work...The problem is that many of you here equate Tokhang to EJK," he said. He did not mention what changes he would implement. 

Official police data owns up to some 6,100 deaths in official anti-drug operations, but human rights groups both here and abroad say this may be a misrepresentation, claiming the actual death toll may be as high as 30,000. 

Dela Rosa is among those charged for crimes against humanity in the complaint filed before the International Criminal Court. The former police chief has signaled his readiness to face the accusations head-on.

“I come with a clean heart. That’s my best weapon because if my heart is tainted, I think I am less qualified," the neophyte senator said Monday. 

"I have many programs, but let’s not go into details yet…It’s still early for that, some people may say I’m arrogant."

Franco Luna 

2022 ELECTIONS SARA DUTERTE-CARPIO SEN. RONALD DELA ROSA
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